Practicing Simplicity in Content

kitch·en-sink [kich-uhn-singk] –adjective:
Marked by an indiscriminate and omnivorous use of elements: a kitchen-sink approach to moviemaking.

When first working with new clients, many naturally lean toward an online presence that gives it all, hoping to showcase everything they do, adding in social media, a hint of blog, and a heavy portion of way too much content. All in one page!

While I'm not one to disagree with a demanding customer, I also feel it important to provide context to their own online marketing decisions.

The "kitchen sink" approach rarely provides the results that these clients are looking for, and often ends up backtracking any progress they might have previously made.

Let me explain.

A web visitor is very different from walking into a store. At any point, online visitors can close their browser or surf to a competitor's website -- within seconds. Most sites average visitors sessions that are less than a minute in length. That's right, 60 seconds to sell whatever you can before they move on to something else.

The kitchen sink approach takes this precious time for granted. The amount of content a visitor would have to digest is overwhelming, and it usually muddles the potential outcomes. There are just too many things to click and the eye doesn't naturally flow anywhere.

Think of it like a magazine.

Good magazines add huge pictures and solid headlines that bring the readers into individual stories. While the articles with less pictures might actually exceed in quality content, they're not the articles necessarily read.

EbayFor example, let's discuss eBay, the largest auction site in the world. Despite the hundreds of thousands of items for sale at any given time on their site, the front page is relatively scant. Navigation has been simplified as much as possible to hide the categories of items, they include eight featured items based on visitor history and a few promos. That's about it.

If eBay can simplify their entire catalog to such a degree, it should be a cakewalk to focus businesses that only provide a handful of products or services. And yet clients often forget to ask themselves the most important question when developing an online identity.

This simple (and overlooked) question: what do you want visitors to do on your site? If you have no idea what your website is for, how will your visitors? Simplify everything and come to a decision about what is most important when catering to your online audience, then act accordingly.

And if you still don't have any idea what your website is for, contact us and we'll try to help you pave your yellow-bricked road with you.